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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 221115 Find in a Library
Title: Understanding the Influence of Victim Gender in Death Penalty Cases: The Importance of Victim Race, Sex-Related Victimization, and Jury Decision Making
Journal: Criminology  Volume:45  Issue:4  Dated:November 2007  Pages:865-892
Author(s): Marian R. Williams; Stephen Demuth; Jefferson E. Holcomb
Date Published: November 2007
Page Count: 28
Type: Report (Study/Research)
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The study examined the influence on victim gender in Georgia’s death penalty cases.
Abstract: The findings indicate that both victim gender and race are associated with death sentencing outcomes, and that an examination of the joint effects of victim gender and race reveals considerable differences in the likelihood of receiving a death sentence between the most disparate victim race-gender groups. Specifically, Black male victim cases are distinguished from all others in terms of leniency afforded to defendants; defendants who murder Black males are the least likely to receive a death sentence. Defendants who murder females are more likely to receive a death sentence than defendants who murder males. Large differences exist in the likelihood of receiving a death sentence when the variables victim race and victim gender are considered jointly. Cases that involve White female victims are treated most harshly. Black male defendants receive disproportionately harsher sentences than other defendants. The sexual nature of female victimization, in particular the degradation and humiliation of the victim, is the key to understanding the female victim effect. Whereas victim race effects were the result of prosecutorial decisionmaking, the observed victim gender effects were the result of jury decisionmaking. In addition, results show that the effect of victim gender is explained largely by gender differences in the sexual nature of some homicides. An examination of prosecutorial and jury decisionmaking reveals that although victim gender has little impact on prosecutorial decisions, it has a meaningful impact on jury decisions. The study reviewed and analyzed the data from the Baldus, Woodworth, and Pulaski (1990) study. Tables, references
Main Term(s): Attitudes toward victims; Criminal Justice System Response to Victims; Female victims; Sentencing disparity; Sentencing factors
Index Term(s): Gender issues; Georgia (USA); Murderers; Race-punishment relationship; Sentencing disparity
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